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Timeless Panamanian Wisdom

Its called a naranjito (pronounced nar an hee toe). It's a wild fruit that was growing in Anthony's back yard. You split it in half and squeeze the juice into a cup of cold water, strain and drink it. Everyone loves it and it has a lovely orange taste.

We met Anthony--Roldolfo Anthony--on a walk out of town and up the hill that over looks all the islands. He called us into his yard after explaining to us about the very dangerous sleeping snakes that live in the area. He said they love to sleep all curled up and if you walk by too loud and wake them oooo, they will chase you and bite you and you will die. But if you carry a machete and use it to poke at the grass and the ground in front of you, the snakes will know the sound of the machete and will run away. He said they are very smart and he didn't know but he figured God made them that way.

We vowed to always carry a machete when walking in the grass and then we followed him into his yard (minus a machete).

Anthony told us he is descended from Jamaica. He told us all about his grandparents and how they taught him a lot of things about how to live, things that came from the old country. He gave us the tour of his garden (a term I use loosely as it was really just what appeared to be a tangle of weeds). He showed us some leaves that smelled faintly of mint and are good for tea and he showed us some leaves that didn't smell like much of anything but come from a plant with a tiny purple flower and are good to get rid of colds. He wanted to show us his okra, but a big wind had blown the plant down and broken its root. He lamented a little over it, but then went on to show us sugar cane and guaba (a pod containing seeds covered in what looks like natural marsh mellow)

I loved Anthony. He was tall and wiry and probably about 60, but with the body of an athlete. His skin was dark, but not as dark as some, and his hair held just a little bit of grey.

He talked of red frogs and green frogs and yellow frogs and he talked of how the giant locusts must contain a poison because nothing eats them.

He showed us a red fruit that looks just like a water apple,

But it isn't.

Which is a very important fact because he explained that THIS fruit is extremely poisonous before it is ripe. When it is ripe he uses it to flavor his catfish and, in fact, will not cook his catfish without it. But the fruit cannot be eaten until it is ripe at which time it splits apart and releases a toxic gas.

"Everything has a time," he said. "and we must wait until the time is ready."

I felt as if I were learning from a very wise guru who was using nature to explain the truth of life to me.

We thanked Anthony for his garden tour and his wonderful hospitality and as we were getting ready to say good bye, he stopped us and introduced us to his family. His wife waved out the window of their wooden home that stood up high on stilts. His grandchildren peeked out the door next door. His daughter was sat in a little chair just inside the house, her beautiful black hair tied up on top of her head.

"Just a minute," he said and he walked through the fence next door and scooped up his peeking grandchildren and brought them out to us. A four year old girl with long black ringlets and blue ribbons in her hair and a 7 year old boy who had skipped school and stayed home because of the rain.

"My babies," he said.

The joy on his face was contagious.

We thanked Anthony over and over for his time and his knowledge and for the bag of ripe naranjiots he'd given us to bring home.

"Come back and I will take you up the hill to see the view of the islands. Bring your friends and I will show you all this area and everything I know."

"We will come back," I promised.

"and we will bring our friends!"


We want to bring you down here. We want you to come and share the amazing experiences we are having. We want to give you the chance to do some volunteer work here in these islands, but more importantly we want to introduce you to people like Anthony.

Stay tuned.

Everything has a time. We must wait until the time is ready.

I can hardly wait!

Excited about the Possibilites,


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